LETTER xvm BLOOD FEUDS 55
tiaris does not exist among these people. They have, in
fact, little to be^hospitable with. They all speak of better
days in the times of their fathers, when they had brood
mares and horses to ride, much pastoral wealth and plenty
of roghan, and when their women could wear jewels and
strings of coins.
On this point I believe them, though there may
possibly be exaggeration in Taimur Khan's statements.
Persia has undoubtedly tightened her grip upon them,
and she is sucking their life-blood out of them. This
becomes very evident now that we have reached a point
where the government of Burujird comes in, with the
infinite unrighteousness of Persian provincial governors.
It is not the tribute fixed by the Amin-es-Sultan which
these Khans complain of, but the rapacious exactions of
the local governors.
There is a " blood feud" between Taimur Khan and
Aslam Khan, the chief of the Zalaki tribe, on whose
territory we shall enter to-day. A nephew of Taimur
killed a relation of Aslam, and afterwards Taimur sheltered
him from legitimate vengeance. Just now the feud is
very active, and cattle-lifting and other reprisals are
going on. " Blood feuds " are of three degrees, according
to the nature of the offence. In the first a man of the
one tribe can kill a man of the other wherever he finds
him. In the second he harries his cattle and goods.
In the third he simply " boycotts " him and refuses him
a passage through his territory. The Bakhtiaris have
often been called " bloodthirsty." I doubt whether they
are so, though life is of little account, and they are reck-
less about spilling blood.
They have a great deal of family devotion, which in
lesser degree extends to the members of their tribe, and
a Bakhtiari often spares the life of a man who has
aggrieved him owing to his fear of creating a blood feud,